A Little Mystical....

>> Thursday, December 30, 2010

As-Salaamu Alaikum! This might sound a little weird, considering I'm only fifteen, but I've been very interested in Islamic mysticism lately. I've been thinking about turning Sufi, but I'm not sure if I should do it. I don't want to do anything blasphemous though, so that's why I'm seeking advice. I'm currently Sunni, but I don't care much about sect. All I know is that I'm Muslim, but I have to use the term Sufi to explain that I want to "go deeper", if you get what I'm trying to say. If you guys think it's a safe choice, can you also explain the steps I have to take to become one?

Dearest Reluctant,

Wa’alykum as salam wa rahmatullah wa barkatoo,

Wow! It’s so nice to see a 15 year old interested in religion and wanting to go deeper. It’s also extremely admirable that you would ask someone before doing something that could be potentially blasphemous. So kudos to you, our little sister!

AS for your question….

Here’s the thing.

I think many of us are confused about what “Sufism” is exactly.

Let me explain that the original early Sufis weren’t exactly known as “Sufis”. Instead, they were very much what you could call “Sunni Muslims” who understood Islam by sticking to the Qur’an, the Prophet’s sunnah and the understanding of the salaf.

Their basic motivation was simply the very Islamic idea of “Zuhd” and "Tazkiyah".

Ibn Khaldun, the 14th century Arab historian, described Sufism as:

... dedication to worship, total dedication to Allah most High, disregard for the finery and ornament of the world, abstinence from the pleasure, wealth, and prestige sought by most men, and retiring from others to worship alone.

(Ibn Khaldun, quoted in Keller, Nuh Ha Mim, The Place of Tasawwuf in Traditional Islam, www.masud.co.uk, 1995)

However, as time went on, Sufism began to change.

Strange, unIslamic ideas began to creep in and many of the so called ‘teachers’ were no longer learned in the teachings of the Sunnah and tafsir. (ETA: New sects developed that began to bring in ideas that were very much blasphemous.)

One such blasphemous idea was the idea that “Allah is everywhere". The true belief is that Allah is with us in His knowledge, His Seeing, His Power, His Hearing, etc. but He is above His creation. The Qu’ran clearly states:

"Do you feel secure that He, Who is fis-sama (above the heavens), will not cause the earth to sink…Or do you feel secure that He, Who is fis-sama (above the heavens) will not send against you a violent whirlwind?" [67:16-17
"To Him ascend (all) the goodly words, and the righteous deeds lift them."[35:10]

Furthermore, Jabir ibn Abdillah said: "The Messenger of Allah said in his speech on the day of Arafah: 'Did I convey (the Message).' They said: 'Yes.' While raising his finger to the sky and then pointing at them, he said: 'O my Lord, be a witness." [Muslim]

You can see more  proofs here

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only prevalent blasphemous idea that has come to be associated with Sufism.

IslamOnline explains some of their other blasphemous ideas:

For example, they claim that the inner “feelings of a Sufi are his source of guidance; through them he knows the lawful and the forbidden. That is why they [SOME MISGUIDED PEOPLE] always find faults with the scholars of Hadith who always say "So-and-so quotes so-and-so as saying…" They find such narration as inauthentic. Rather, a genuine statement, approved of by the Sufis, should begin with: “I was inspired by my Lord that” They also used to mock the scholars of Hadith saying: “You are fond of narrating statements from mortals. But we, Sufis, narrate our statements from Allah, the Everlasting Lord.”

Of course, I don’t think I need to explain that is completely wrong!

Read more here

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem has also said:

Sufis fall into two categories: Sunni Sufis and innovator Sufis. The good ones among them have only a little bidah, but some of them have a great deal of bidah, and some understood Sufism as supporting the belief in wahdat al-wujood (a form of pantheism).

Majmoo Fataawa Ibn Ibraaheem, 1, no. 192.

I think the best summary of  today's Sufism is:

Today Sufism is a name without a reality. It was once a reality without a name.

Abu l-Hasan Fushanji, quoted in Lings, Martin, What is Sufism?, The Islamic Texts Society, 1999, pg 45

So what is my advice to you? Am I saying that ‘you can’t go deeper’?

No, not at all.

In the very famous hadith where Jabril came and asked the Prophet questions, the Prophet said something very very ‘deep’.

“He (the inquirer- Jabril alyhee as salam) again said: Inform me about Ihsan.

"He (the Prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam) said: That you worship Allah as if you are seeing Him, for though you don't see Him, He, verily, sees you.”

Now that- Ihsan- is deep.

Just imagine living with Allah’s presence always clearly in your mind and clearly in your heart. If you want to feel more spiritual, if you want to taste ‘the deepness’, that is what you should strive for.

So how should you try to reach Ihsan?

Well! Take the Prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam as your ro-model.

The Qur’an says:

"Say: if you love Allâh, follow me and He will love you and forgive you your wrong actions." (3:31)

"You have a good model in the Messenger of Allâh for one who hopes for Allâh and the Last Day." (33:21)

1. Do all the obligatory things that Allah has commanded you to do and abstain from all that He has prohibited. Perform the nawafil.

Hadith Qudsi 25:

“….My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it. I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him.                                                                        It was related by al-Bukhari.

2. Learn more about Allah’s Names and Attributes. When you learn more about His Names, you are confronted with His (utter) Perfection and our imperfection- His Magnificent abilities and our weaknesses.

For example, let’s take the name “Al Ghani”.

Moses said, "If you should disbelieve, you and whoever is on the earth entirely - indeed, Allah is Free of need (Al Ghani) and Praiseworthy." . (Surah Ibrahim, 14:8).

Reflecting on this Name, we realize that Allah is not in need of our faith, our worship or our obedience. If the whole world were to become unbelievers, that would not harm Him in the least. The truth is that His is an endless treasury. As opposed to this, we are all poor and all 'in need'. Even rich people. NO matter how rich they are, they are still dependent on Allah, and nothing stays in their hands. Allah said:

O My servants, I have forbidden oppression for Myself and have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another. O My servants, all of you are astray except for those I have guided, so seek guidance of Me and I shall guide you, O My servants, all of you are hungry except for those I have fed, so seek food of Me and I shall feed you. O My servants, all of you are naked except for those I have clothed, so seek clothing of Me and I shall clothe you. O My servants, you sin by night and by day, and I forgive all sins, so seek forgiveness of Me and I shall forgive you. O My servants, you will not attain harming Me so as to harm Me, and will not attain benefitting Me so as to benefit Me. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as pious as the most pious heart of any one man of you, that would not increase My kingdom in anything. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as wicked as the most wicked heart of any one man of you, that would not decrease My kingdom in anything. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to rise up in one place and make a request of Me, and were I to give everyone what he requested, that would not decrease what I have, any more that a needle decreases the sea if put into it.....

IF you can reflect and actually live with that Name, alone, you are bound to reach a higher state of Ihsan, because you will realize the truth of your relationship with Allah- He does not need you but you are in desperate need of Him.

IN fact, in another verse Prophet Mosa says: "My Lord, indeed I am, for whatever good You would send down to me, in need."

What else?

I’ll give you some more beautiful verses and then list a good website with short explanations of Allah’s Names.

- That is because Allah is the (only) Reality, and because whatever else they invoke besides Him is Falsehood; and because Allah, HE IS THE MOST HIGH, Most Great. Seest thou not that the ships sail through the Ocean by the grace of Allah? That He may show you of His Signs? Verily in this are Signs for all who constantly persevere and give thanks. When a wave covers them like the canopy (of clouds), they call to Allah, offering Him sincere devotion, but when He has delivered them safely to land, there are among them those that halt between (right and wrong). But none reject Our Signs except only a perfidious ungrateful (wretch)!

- If Allah helps you, no one can overcome you. If He forsakes you, who can help you? In Allah the believers should trust." (3:160)

He is Allah, besides whom there is no god. He has know¬ledge of everything, whether perceptible or imperceptible. He is the Beneficent, the Merciful. He is Allah, besides whom there is no god, the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One, the Giver of peace, the Keeper of faith, the Supreme, the Mighty one, the All powerful and the Majestic. Exalted be He above what they associate with Him. He is Allah, the Creator, the Originator, the Fashioner. His are the most beautiful names. All that is in the heavens and the earth gives glory to Him. He is the Mighty, the Wise". (Surah al Hashr, 59:22 24).

Here's the website

3. Read the tasfir of the Qur’an or listen to it. You really can’t go deeper than the Qur’an. Imagine. It is Allah’s words. I highly recommend starting with Juza Amma and learning the meaning behind the words almost all of us have memorized but don’t really understand. A great website with lectures on this is:
http://bayyinah.com/podcast/. Just imagine that to explain surat Al Ikhlas (Kul huwa Allahoo Ahad) he had to divide it into two ‘halaqahs’. (I think it was more than an hour and a half!)

4. Do Dhikr. Moisten your tongue with His remembrance.

...hearts become tranquil through the remembrance of Allah                                                  Qur'an 13:28

5. Make lots of dua. Constantly talk to Allah. Ask Him whenever you need something. Turn to Him whenever you have a problem and even whenever you’re happy….

When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every supplicant when he calleth on Me: let them also, with a will, listen to My call, and believe in Me: that they may walk in the right way. (2: 186)
And your Lord says: "Call on Me; I will answer your (PRAYER): but those who are too arrogant to serve Me will surely find themselves in Hell, in humiliation!"

Learn also the duas the Prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam used to say. They are soooo deep!

- The Prophet sallah Allahoo alyhaee wa salam used to say:
“O Allah, I seek protection in Your pleasure from Your anger, and I seek protection in Your forgiveness from Your punishment. I seek protection in You from You. I cannot count Your praises. You are as You have praised Yourself.” (He would say this during sujood)

Imagine. We could never praise Allah as He deserves. Even if we were to Praise Him all day long, for 500 years, that would not be enough.

- O Allah , by You we enter the morning and by You we enter the evening, 1 by You we live and and by You we die, and to You is the Final Return.

- O Ever Living One, O Eternal One, by Your mercy I call on You to set right all my affairs. Do not place me in charge of my soul even for the blinking of an eye (i.e. a moment).

Just think about that. Not even for a minute- wait, not even for ‘less’ than a minute, should we want to be in charge of ourselves. Why? Because we could lead ourselves to destruction, but Allah leads us to the light. He is the Merciful One and He chooses the things that are best for each of us! . He alone knows what we should each get and what is right for each of us.

- After raising from ruku, the Prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam also used to say:

(A praise that) fills the heavens and the earth and what lies between them, and whatever else You please . (You Allah) are most worthy of praise and majesty , and what the slave has said - we are all Your slaves . O Allah , there is none who can withhold what You give, and none may give what You have withheld . And the might of the mighty person cannot benefit him against You.
One final dua:

O Lord, praise to You! You are the light of the heavens and the earth and
all that dwell therein. Praise to You! You are the Lord of the heavens and the
earth and all that dwell therein. Praise to You! You are the truth, and Your
promise is true, and Your word is true, and Your meeting is true, and the Garden
is true, and the Fire is true, and the Prophets were true, and Muhammad is true,
and the Hour is true! O Allah, to You I commit myself, and in You I believe and
place my trust, and unto You I turn in repentance, and for You I fight, and
through You I pass judgment. Forgive me my sins, past and future, open and
hidden. You are my God; there is no God but You!

These are just a few duas. There are so many more and so many that we can say through the day. You see how deep they are?

Do you see what I am saying? Do you see how we have the best example already?

6. Try reading the works of the great scholars, like Ibn Al Qayim. You can see some of his writings here. Learn more about "Tazkiyah", inshaAllah.

Well, sis, those were just a few suggestions. This link mentions some Other ways to Draw Closer to Allah

"I hope inshaAllah you try these suggestions out and you find 'the deepness' that you are looking for. Feel free to write in any 'amazing' things you read/ learn about Allah/ tafsir/ etc. We'd love to share it :) Jazaki Allah for your awesome question and wishing you all the best,

One final verse:

Yet there are some who take for themselves objects of worship beside Allah, whom they love as they should love Allah; but those who believe, love Allah more ardently". (Surah al‑Baqarah, 2:165).

4 wonderful sprinkely thoughts:

Anonymous,  January 4, 2011 at 5:37 AM  


good topic! the wrong kind of sufism is really spreading around now everywhere. i've copied a link for a good article that explains the purpose of our existence and at the same time refutes the now common idea of sufism-


keep it up, sisters.

rialive January 4, 2011 at 4:51 PM  

Salam Little Auntie,
Please edit my comment :)

There is a group of people here in my town calling themselves 'sufi', and i saw their teachings are all based on sunnah, not at all like you described .
so, i guess claiming all 'sufi' is haram is wrong. but that's another discussion.
And yes also, as I learned from these people, sufi is a gourp of people who practise tazkiyatun nafs, like Ibn Qayyim rahimahullah taught.
I dont want to mislead Reluctant, so there was my opinion abt the word : sufi.

But for Reluctant:

Dear Reluctant, when you want to get deeper, please follow the sunnah.
We are not qualified to pick this and that to be a better way for our religion than the sunnah.
Why? because we dont have enough time to study all 'sects'. Don't take risk, and don't be trapped in names of sects. As long as they follow sunnah, then it is okay.
That's why I suggest you to keep on your sunni path, and learn more reliable sources to support your struggle, and may Allah make it easy.

Little Auntie,  January 4, 2011 at 9:51 PM  

on the contrary! Why would I edit it? You said what I was trying to get at!!! Not all Sufis are wrong- but there have become many sects and groups that are associated with things that are unIslamic. It's just that we are NOT qualified to pick this and that as a better way than our sunnah.

I am in no position to call "all Sufis wrong"; I just quoted to her what some knowledgeable people (scholars) have now said about 'certain groups'.

Basically, I meant to write exactly what you did, so Jazaki Allah koli khair :)

inshaAllah reluctant will understand now :)

Anonymous,  December 15, 2012 at 7:45 PM  

Jakakillaho khair =)

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Asalamu aialkum!
Well, what do you think? You know, you're part of the team, as well. Please help a sister out and share your own advice/experiences/etc. One for all and all for one =)
P.S. I reserve the right to remove any disrespectful comment ;)

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